Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reactions to the Mark Reynolds trade

Yesterday the Orioles acquired third baseman Mark Reynolds from the Diamondbacks in exchange for relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. Andy MacPhail said that he wanted to improve the team's offense and overall team power, and he did just that with this move.

Reynolds, 27, has lots of power and hit 121 home runs in four seasons with Arizona. After a breakout season in 2009 -- .260/.349/.543, 44 HR -- Reynolds took a big step back last season, hitting .198/.320/.433. He still hit 32 home runs, but the O's hope that they're not trading for the guy who's going to replicate that type of season in Baltimore.

With Reynolds's immense power, though, comes numerous strikeouts; he struck out more than 200 times in each of the last three seasons. The linked article above also casually mentions that those are the three highest strikeout totals in MLB history. So Reynolds will immediately upgrade the O's combined power and slugging percentage, but he will also strike out more than once per game. That's the trade-off the O's are making for Reynolds's services (besides, you know, the actual trade).

Reynolds is currently in the middle of a three-year, $14.5 million contract that he signed with Arizona. His deal also includes a 2013 team option. Last year, the first year in that deal, Reynolds made $500,000. In 2011 his salary bumps up to $5 million, and he'll earn $7.5 million in 2012. Reynolds's team option for 2013 is $11 million, with a $500,000 buyout. So the O's will be paying Reynolds a decent amount for his services, but his contract certainly seems reasonable. Also, the O's control him for at least the next two seasons for not a huge sum of money. If Reynolds fails to impress, then the O's can pay him his buyout money in 2013 and move along.

My take is that I like this move. The trade seems pretty even, especially since Hernandez (25) and Mickolio (26) are under team control and are not expensive. But they are also relievers and can be replaced; that is, if the O's handle the bullpen situation right (i.e., not overpaying for relievers). The deal will seem much better if Reynolds reverts back to his 2009 form instead of 2010's, but it's also likely that he'll finish 2011 as a combination of the two. I seriously doubt that he'll hit under .200 again, but that doesn't mean he'll slug at a .543 clip again either. But for this trade to be effective, he doesn't have to.

Other reactions:

- "Though Reynolds will head east after the first season by a qualified player of more Ks (211) than BA (.198), it's a risk the Orioles had to take. They've struggled to attract any free agents this offseason with their standing at the bottom of the AL East and Reynolds will bring the sort of over-the-wall power that only Luke Scott(notes) could provide last season. He hit 44 and 32 homers the last two seasons and he'll definitely need to record a number between those two — as well as avoid setting the single-season strikeout record again —to make himself a winning import for the O's." [Kevin Kaduk, Big League Stew]

- "Whether it’s the right move for the Orioles is open to debate. Hernandez couldn’t cut it as a starter, and if you’re going to move young talent, make it a reliever or two. Only the best relievers in the league come close to 2.5 WAR in a season, and I don’t think Hernandez or Mickolio are close to that yet, although Hernandez, at least, looks like he might do well (all those fly balls will be scary in the desert, though). There is something to be said for the Orioles just having a non-horrible presence at third (or first, if that’s what they decide to do, although Reynolds’ overall offense is much less impressive there). Unless one of the traded relievers turns into another Joakim Soria, this probably won’t hurt them too badly in the long-term (when they might be able to contend in the AL East), either, although Reynolds himself isn’t likely to be much help then. Overall, this looks like a fair trade for both sides that fills a need for the Orioles for the next couple of seasons." [Matt Klaassen, FanGraphs]

- "As for the guys Baltimore sent to the desert, losing David Hernandez is a bit of a blow. I think Hernandez will be, someday, a successful major league pitcher. However, his path is almost certainly that of a reliever at this point and you shouldn't hesitate to part with relief arms to improve the club. Hernandez did manage to increase his K rate to something close to his minor league rate in 2010 but he was still essentially a flyball pitcher and figures to do better in Arizona. I have little doubt that he may have success going forward but he won't be as valuable as Reynolds has the chance to be." [Heath, Dempsey's Army]

- "The book on Reynolds is simple: plenty of power, plenty of strikeouts, low average. He’s coming here to provide much-needed power, plain and simple. Not much else to it. It isn’t what I’d call a great acquisition, but it is appropriate. . . . Ultimately, I can’t say I love this. And if it’s the only big move they make, I’ll probably hate it. For now I suppose it suffices to say that it seems to improve the team at least somewhat. That’s a start." [Neal Shaffer, The Loss Column]

- "Andy MacPhail needs to inject some power and run production into the Orioles lineup and he came up a little short on Victor Martinez, which left him with a list of available players that all have some kind of drawback. Personally, I would have been happy to take Adam Dunn and split him between first base and DH in spite of his strikeout total, but he's got some of the same issues as Reynolds and he got $56 million from the White Sox." [Peter Schmuck, The Schmuck Stops Here]

Contract information via Cot's Baseball Contracts

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